London (Aug. 5)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
Palestine is one of the countries dealt with in a new White Paper containing a statement by the Secretary of State for the Colonies explanatory of the Estimates for Colonial Services 1926 and Middle Eastern Services 1926.
The Middle Eastern Services Vote, it is stated in the White Paper, dates its existence as a separate Vote from the year 1921. Its creation formed portion of the administrative changes introduced in that year under which the control of Middle Eastern affairs was vested in a single Department of State, viz., the Colonial Office. At the time when this change was introduced very heavy expenditure was being incurred on the maintenance of Imperial garrisons in Iraq, and, to a lesser extent in Palestine. During the years that have followed large reductions have been effected, and the total amount of the Vote has shown a steady and progressive diminution. In 1921 the figure stood at approximately Â£29,000,000; in 1926 at Â£4,444,000. The transfer of military control, in both countries, from the Army to the Air Force has largely contributed to the economics effected. In Iraq the policy of reduction has been greatly hampered by political conditions. The northern boundary of the country was not definitely fixed by the League of Nations until December, 1925, and was not accepted by Turkey until June, 1926. Now that this difficulty has at length been removed, there is every hope that further savings may be effected on a substantial scale.
The total expenditure provided in the Middle Eastern Services Estimates for 1926 is Â£4,444,000 as compared with Â£4,925,000 for the previous year, showing a decrease of Â£481,000. Of this decrease Â£203,000 is in respect of Palestine, and Â£218,000 is in respect of Iraq. The balance of the total decrease is in respect of certain minor expenditure in Arabia. The cost of the Imperial garrison in the two countries, which still forms by far the largest item in the Vote, fell from Â£3,803,300 in 1925 to Â£3,455.500 in 1926, a decrease of Â£347,800.
In Palestine His Majesty’s Government agreed to contribute, in the year 1926, a sum of Â£108,000 towards the cost of the new frontier force which has been created as part of the scheme recently introduced for the reorganization of the defence forces of the country. British revenues also contribute a grant-in-aid of Â£92,000 towards the cost of the administration of Trans-Jordan. Apart from these contributions, all of a temporary character, both Palestine and Iraq may now be said to be self-supporting so far as internal administration is concerned.
The history of Palestine, the White Paper states, has since the establishment of a civil administration under a British High Commissioner in July, 1920. been one of steady progress and development. Political difficulties of a somewhat acute nature were encountered in the earlier stages, and actual disturbances occurred both at Jaffa and Jerusalem in the course of 1921. Since then there has been no serious breach of the peace. It would be too much to say that all elements of discontent have been removed, but it may at least be claimed that the general political situation has sensibly improved. Jewish immigration, in accordance with the terms of the Mandate (which has been in effective operation since September, 1923). has proceeded steadily. It has done much to bring prosperity to the country, and to produce a financial situation in which the Palestine Government is able to not only balance its budget but to show a substantial surplus of revenue over expenditure.
Palestine is primarily an agricultural country, and agricultural development during the past few years has been marked. Oranges and tobacco are grown on a considerable scale. There has been a large extension of fruit and vegetable production, and the introduction of new staple crops such as ground-nuts, linseed, soya beans, cotton, etc., is being organized. A large power station for the generation of electric light and energy was opened at Jaffa in June. 1923, and has since been enlarged. Smaller stations were established at Haifa and Tiberias during 1925. Two scholarships, tenable at Oxford and Cambridge, have been of fered by the Palestine Government for competition by Palestinian students.
It is noeworthy that the prolonged disturbances in the neighboring territory of Syria have so far produced no serious repercussion in Palestine.